Zynga Unleashed From Facebook, Launches Independent Website Project Z

Company announces slate of 10 new games including “CastleVille” and “Mafia Wars 2”

The knock on Zynga has been that, from "Farmville" to "Mafia Wars," its future is to inextricably linked to Facebook, the social media site that serves as a platform the company's games. 

That could be changing. 

At an event held at the gaming giant's new San Francisco headquarters, appropriately entitled Zynga Unleashed, CEO Mark Pincus unveiled its own platform Project Z. Confusing things somewhat, the platform was alternately referred to in media accounts and in Pincus' presentation as Zynga Direct. 

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Users will no longer have to log on to the company's games directly through Facebook, and will instead be able to access them through a Zynga operated website, Pincus said. 

The site will launch later this year. 

"We're going to show Zynga Direct for the first time today. A platform for a direct relationship with consumers," Pincus tweeted. 

Not that Zynga is severing all ties to Facebook. 

Though Project Z is independently operated, it will use Facebook Connect to link gamers, Pincus said. The difference is that gamers do not have to be logged onto Facebook to play and can access the games through the Project Z site. 

Zynga announced that it will unveil three new HTML5 enabled games for Facebook's mobile app, ZyngaPoker Mobile Web, Words With Friends HTML5 and Farmville Express.

The company also unveiled a new slate of 10 games that includes poker and bingo games, as well as a new entrant in Zynga's popular "ville" franchise, "CastleVille" and "Mafia Wars 2."

Zynga's announcements comes as the company prepares for its initial public offering. Initially scheduled for September, it was pushed back because of the market downturn; Zynga is hoping to raise $1 billion through the IPO.

Zynga has earned $18 million on revenues of $522 million during the first half of the year, and boasts 232 million users worldwide

Operating outside of Facebook's orbit is critically important to Zynga. Facebook demands a 30 percent cut of the money Zynga makes on each transaction that takes place on its platform, according to VentureBeat. 

Zynga has also begun offering its games on Google+.